Chicken farming with higher welfare isn’t as costly as you think.Chicken farming with higher welfare isn’t as costly as you think.

Billions of chickens are raised every year in cramped factory farms. These chickens are genetically selected to be heavy and fast-growing, often making it difficult for their legs to support. Combining fast growth with crowded, barren environments is a recipe for causing severe mental and physical trauma.

Are higher welfare chicken farms too costly?

The chicken industry claims that switching to higher-quality, more sustainable farming practices are too costly. We were not convinced, so we partnered with the University of Wageningen, a world-recognized university in the Netherlands, to investigate.

Experts in business and agriculture conducted an economic and welfare analysis on five markets: the United States, Brazil, China, Thailand, China, Brazil and China – all of whom are top chicken producers, exporters, and consumers globally.

We also examined what consumers thought about the welfare of chickens in these markets. We wanted to determine if consumers are willing to pay more to get a better quality product with higher welfare.

Chicken farming with higher welfare is not as costly as previously believed.

Research shows that moving from a factory farm into a more welfare indoor farm can increase production costs by 0.6 to 0.9 Eurocents per kilogram of live birds across all five markets.

This results in a cost increase of 6.4-13.4% above conventional production costs. This is lower than the previously forecasted cost increase of 49%, as claimed by Elanco Animal Health (2015), a US-funded industry study.

The high demand for chickens with higher welfare is growing.

Our research also showed that consumers are demanding higher welfare chicken globally, which is hard to ignore for both retailers and producers.

Consumers are becoming more concerned about the poor conditions in which chickens were raised. Survey respondents indicated they are willing to pay more for better welfare meat.

More than 60% of global chicken consumers were willing to pay more for higher quality and better welfare products, according to a larger study that covered 14 countries.

Improvements in the lives of billions upon billions of chickens

These solutions are simple and effective and supported by solid scientific evidence. These improvements include:

Use chicken breeds that are healthier and more balanced to grow your chickens

Give chickens more space and natural sunlight

Give them objects such as perches and hay bales to keep chickens active and healthy.

Some companies have already committed to improving the lives of chickens.

It is not expensive to move to higher welfare agriculture, and it can have multiple benefits for consumers, chickens and companies. KFC branches across six European countries, including Germany and the UK, announced a major commitment toward improving chicken welfare earlier this month by 2026. Your support was key to this achievement. We are grateful.

This is a great opportunity to improve the lives and well-being of millions of chickens worldwide. Higher welfare indoor systems are scientifically proven to improve welfare outcomes. It opens up new business opportunities around the world. It allows consumers to choose what they want, and producers and retailers can show that they care about the welfare of animals.

The cost does not justify chicken cruelty

We found that millions of chickens could be removed from cruel intensive systems each year. This is because producers, restaurants and retailers cannot use high costs as an excuse. There is good reason to believe that the cost of higher welfare systems in other markets will increase due to the consistency of chicken production methods across the globe.